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Re: [ARSCLIST] CD versus Download was "All hail the analogue revolution..."

Hi Roger:

No, Capitol had a NYC studio from at least the mid-50's if not earlier. I think Goran Finnberg said earlier on this list that they had a NYC studio from the late 40's onward. Capitol NYC was used to make many of their own records plus records for Mercury, Impulse!, I think Prestige and I think a few other labels. For the "Birth of Cool" sessions, it could well have been that Capitol's own studio was booked with something more likely to be profitable, like a pop session. Remember, these sides did not sell very many copies in their day.

711 5th Avenue has an interesting history. It was RCA/NBC's network radio studios before Rockefeller Center was built. Then it was home to World Broadcasting Co, a transcription service with some unique and advanced cutting techniques. Then sometime after WWII, MGM bought the building and moved their radio studios into that same space. When MGM bought 51% of Fine Sound/PerspectaSound in 1952, the company was retooled as a major film-sound facility to do MGM and other studios' pictures in PerspectaSound (see widescreenmuseum.com for plenty of details on PerspectaSound). The newly minted Fine Sound was moved to 711 5th, which worked out OK since WMGM was not longer producing radio dramas or live music on a regular basis and thus did not need the big studios. Since my father had a lot of clients in the music-recording business, and was consulting engineer to Mercury, the studios were also used to record many sessions for Mercury, Verve and other labels, as well as for pre-broadcast sound recordings for Patti Page's TV show and other such things. The facilities were really nice for that time. Big, 2-story studios (A and B), isolated from the building, with matching custom 12-channel RCA consoles and many options to get optimal recordings. Two live echo chambers in the building's eves (sp?). A very advanced film-sound facility (studio C) and a large disk-mastering suite. In 1956 MGM sold the building to Columbia Pictures and they opted to convert Studio A into a screening room. The studio was not viable without Studio A. Fine Sound then shut down in late 1956. Some of the equipment -- most notably the custom Western Electric/MGM all-passive film-mixing console from studio C and one of the RCA consoles which had been converted to 3 channel -- ended up later at Fine Recording, which was located in the Great Northern Hotel. Coca-Cola Co. acquired the building as part of Columbia Pictures. They sold the movie studio to Sony in the 80's or 90's but kept the building, which is now known as the Coca-Cola Building.

As for Mercury recordings done at Fine Sound, I'm not sure. Definitely some pop and jazz and perhaps some of the chamber-music classical stuff. The other big business at Fine Sound was mastering. In 1955, according to an ad for AudioTape featuring the studio, more than half of the non-Columbia/non-RCA/non-Decca records made in the US were mastered at Fine Sound. Most of the Verve sessions held in NYC in the period 1953-1956 were done at Fine Sound. Also all the Grand Award records were made there, as well as some other stuff. I do not know all the movies mixed there, but it was many.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Roger and Allison Kulp" <thorenstd124@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2006 12:55 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] CD versus Download was "All hail the analogue revolution..."

There is an excerpt from John Szwed's book "So What" ,on the web,that suggests the WMGM studios,on Fifth Avenue was contracted by Capitol,to record the Miles Davis,Gerry Mulligan,etc. sessions.I have a book on the history of Capitol,done for thier fiftieth anniversary,in storage somewheres.I don't believe they had the funds to buy east coast studios,until they hooked up with EMI,later in the 50s.I wasn't aware your dad bought the studios.What was done there for Mercury ?
Roger Kulp

Tom Fine <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote: To my ears, the originals are much better. But an interesting story.

"Birth of the Cool" sessions were recorded at WMGM radio's music studio, later Fine Sound studio B,
711 5th Avenue. For some reason, none of the discographies or reissue CD's specifies the studio,
even though the WMGM logo is clearly visible on the RCA ribbon microphones in the pictures. One of
the key things about those recordings was that the band sat in a near circle with one or two mics in
picking them up. Pictures show one mic on the piano and one over Max Roach's drums. Drums don't
overload the recording because they're behind a baffle (an old radio baffle with a real-deal window
so everyone could see each other). A classic example of a long-enduring recording made with very
simple means. That music was very much avante garde in its day. I must say it's not my all-time
favorite but it sure had a far-reaching influence in the jazz world. One question I've always had
about those sessions is, why at WMGM? Capitol had their own studio in NY? Were these sessions
self-financed and then sold as finished sides to Capitol?

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Lou Judson"
Sent: Monday, October 02, 2006 11:40 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] CD versus Download was "All hail the analogue revolution..."

See this: very interesting story on NPR yesteday, re-creating the kind of music from the Birth of the Cool:

Cool jazz is very much alive today! and the comments abotu how the new cool was accepted when it first came out is fascinating - the world agreed with Mr Barr at that time - but look at the legs on that music now, getting longer and stronger all the time...

Lou Judson � Intuitive Audio 415-883-2689

On Oct 2, 2006, at 7:09 AM, Aaron Levinson wrote:

I must take issue with Steven's dubious assertions about modern Jazz. To suggest that the music of
Miles Davis, Charlie Parker,
Thelonious Monk, etc was somehow inferior to "Dixieland" is simply absurd. Dixieland does NOT
in any meaningful way while "Kind Of Blue" continues to sell to every successive generation that
discovers its
unearthly beauty. One man's opinion may be just that but to denigrate all developments in jazz
after Benny Goodman is an
insult to many listeners the world over and to the contributions of the artists themselves. If you
like Dixieland
fine but do not use this archaic form as a pedestal to disparage the work of hundreds of artists
who are among
the most talented people that America has ever produced. Anyone that has heard Coltrane with
Johnny Hartman
would immediately agree that Steven's suggestion that he eschewed "familiar, ear-catching tunes"
is not just
a shallow statement it also patently false. Finally, Steven damns modern jazz for its
"introspection". In an age
as loud, abrasive and glitzy as today music or anything for that matter, that encourages
seems to me an excellent antidote for the self-absorbed materialism that has suffused our culture.
When I need a respite from a
world gone quite mad, Miles Davis playing "Someday My Prince Will Come" is a guaranteed moment of
profound introspection and ageless wonder. I suggest it to anyone that appreciates great art.


steven c wrote:
----- Original Message ----- From: "Don Cox"

In rock and pop, by and large the performer is the focus, and most of
the material is composed by the performers. So one might buy a studio
recording and a live concert recording, and that is it.

That is a practice which has only existed for just over (about) forty
years! IIRC, the Beatles were the first pop artists to write the vast
majority of the tunes they recorded (and they had the advantage of
being talented songwriters...one not granted to most of their ilk!)
Prior to that point (even during the heyday of "rock'n'roll!") if
one was a song PERFORMER one contacted a WRITER to see what songs
might be available to record. The problem to-day is that for the
most part being a talented performer does NOT guarantee that one
is an equally talented songwriter!

For a Beethoven sonata, or a Cole Porter song, each performer has
something different to tell you about the music, as each actor does
about Hamlet or Macbeth. Add to that the changes in performance styles
over the years, and it does make sense to own several versions of a
major work.

See above...

Whether it makes sense to buy the latest offering by some young "star"
at full price, I doubt.

It probably doesn't. Many "stars" are selected by record-industry
"honchos" for reasons that have little or nothing to do with their
musical talent (or, usually, lack thereof...) but simply seem to
offer a possibility of selling large amounts of "product!"

As well, as recorded music more and more becomes a product of
technology, as opposed to any extant musical talent, the resulting
"product" takes on a distinct similarity...again, aimed at saleability
as opposed to musical quality. At some point in the not-too-distant
future, it may be possible to create "superstars" that exist only
as bytes and bits somewhere in the half-vast "IT Division!"

I think the number of listeners to classical music is increasing, not
decreasing. Comparing an issue of The Gramophone from the 70s to a
current issue, there are far more releases, ten times as many labels,
and no shortage of excellent new recordings. After all, there is more
money around today than there was then.

But...the demand is primarily for the same relative handful of familiar
classical works! I assume there are still classical works being composed...
however, I would guess they are either extensively derivative of older
classical music...or so experimantal as to sail over the heads of the
potential purchasers. Most of what is heard on classical-music radio
is at the very least close to a century old...and generally two to
four centuries old...

Hey, my sympathies are with you. It's the same with jazz -- aside from
the fact that the genre has been hijacked to large extent by the
"museum music" crowd.

I think jazz pretty well died when it became a genre.

Jazz began to die out when be-bop made it 1) more introspective than
entertaining, and 2) effectively impossible to dance to! In fact, that
is why "dixieland jazz" still survives...simple, often familiar tunes,
an obvious and ear-catching rhythm listeners can dance or clap their
hands to...and a sense of fun! Note that all of these qualities are
either absent or hard-to-hear in, say, a Coltrane album/performance...

One interesting side thought (on which I have so far no opinion...)
As a "survivor" of the sixties, I lived through (and enjoyed, as
near as I can remember) the musical developments that were both
inspired (for the artists) and enjoyed (for the listeners) by
the "mind-altering" drugs of the period. Now, the "drug of choice"
for jazz musicians for most, if not all, of the pre-WWII period
was, of course, good ol' C2H5OH (or, during prohibition, occasionally
CH3OH...). During the "bop era" and thereafter, many jazz musicians
were into heroin and similar opiates. What effect did that have on
how jazz developed...?!

Steven C. Barr

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